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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

192                               THE GAY GENIUS

a wife with a horrible temper. Here I am luckier than he, and that is
why I wrote this line."

It was about this time that the poet took Chaoyun as his concubine.
Chaoyun, as we remember, was a maid of twelve when Mrs. Su bought
her at Hangchow, and in the terminology of the Sung period, one
could speak of her as "Mrs. Su's concubine"" (chieh}, although this would-
not make sense in English. It was quite usual in ancient China for
a wife's maid to be promoted to the position of "concubine". Such
a concubine was the wife's assistant in every sense of the word, and
for a wife who attended to her husband's personal comforts, such as
preparing him a bath, a concubine had certain advantages over a maid
in not having to avoid the husband's presence. Chaoyun had grown up
now. She was a remarkably intelligent girl, and admirers of the poet
are inclined to glamorise her. Some even write about her as if she had
been an accomplished courtesan in Hangchow when Su Tungpo.
brought her into the family. Careful research proves that this was not
the case. On the poet's own testimony, Chaoyun learned to read and
write only after coming into" his home. Her popularity with Chinese
admirers of the poet is deserved, because it was she who followed him
to his exile in his old age.

In 108^ Chaoyun gave birth to a boy, called Tun-erh (meaning "the
Little Hide-A way"), and at the ceremony of bathing the baby three
days after its birth, Su Tungpo wrote a poem which was a satire on,
himself.                                         *

"All people wish their children to be brilliant,
But I have suffered from brilliance all my life.               ^

May you, my son, grow up dumb and stupid,
And, free from calamities, end up as a premier."

His wife must have been pleased with the fact that her husband was
a good cook and loved to do his own cooking. It is on record that he
expressed regret that though pork was so cheap at this place, "the sich
men would not eat it and the poor did not know how to cook it.n He
gave a formula for stewed pork which was simplicity itself—to cook
it In a very small amount of water and after bringing it to a boil, let
it simmer for hours and hours, with sova-bean sauce, of course. Hi&
method of cooking fish seems to have been the one commonly known
in China today. He selected a carp, washed it in cold water, rubbed
some salt on it, and stuffed it with heart of Chinese cabbage. Then he
put it in the pan with a few strips of the white of small onions, and
pan-fried it without stirring. When it was half-cooked, he put in a few
slices of raw ginger, and poured over it a little pickled turnip sauce
with a dash of wine. Just as it was about cooked, he threw in a few
thin slices oŁ orange-peel,* and then had it served hot.